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Thread: Knowledge's Cauldron

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    Knowledge's Cauldron

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    Knowledge's Cauldron Main Post #1
    This is the first main post for the adventure Knowledge's Cauldron. Players' posts in either thread are due by 11 pm, Wednesday, December 19th. The next main post will appear by 11 pm, Thursday, December 20th.

    The day of Midsummer's Eve
    Inside, the mud-caked shack is still only tepidly warm at noon but threatens to become sweltering in another hour or so. Flies are everywhere, but here at the base of the mound, the establishment could be one with crystal goblets and chilled wine, and there would still be flies. This place is neither wealthy nor decrepit, just a middling tavern hoping to prosper in a field leveled literally and figuratively by the acqua alta.

    Zela props his cheek up with his gloved hand and glances at Rogur with his face tilted, while he pokes at his mug. He's a handsome man with blond, curly hair and green eyes, unusual on all counts, though his eyes aren't quite as bright and striking as Zephyr's. His face is youthful, but some locks of his hair have gone prematurely to white.

    "I know what you're on about," he drawls, as he runs his finger idly along the mug's edge. "Trying to pry information out of me so that you don't have to hire me outright. It won't work.

    "Oh, I'll tell you what you're asking for, all right," he goes on, "I've given up on the northern trail. Nobody's going to pay twenty staters a day, and I shan't do it for any less, either. I know where some hardwood groves are, and some plants that fetch more than a chalun with the apothecaries. People will be wanting that soon, I expect, once the easy lumber's done.

    "So what's the trouble with it? Bad things are starting to happen. Wolves, yes. There are always wolves, and whatever you've heard about starving wolves in winter, the worst is really the height of summer, meaning in the next month or two," he pauses to take in a breath and drink from his mug. "I'm not talking about wolves."

    "People are disappearing. My friends are. Some of the rassaphores are. A few fools who thought to make the trail without my friends, too. People go off to look for water; they don't come back. People wake up in the morning, and the one on the last watch is nowhere to be found. That's why I said it won't work. I can tell you this, but it won't help you when it happens to you.

    "My friends who are left are getting bad reputations. They say they're in with the bandits to the south. People who say that are fools. There are no bandits north of the river. The rassaphores aren't going on foot, now. They magic their way between the city and monastery," he waves away the flies and takes another gulp. "Nobody left for us to guide. We don't really want to guide anyone anymore, either; and all in just the fortnight.

    "It started with the flood. The waters woke something up, or something bad came down from the west. I've heard tell of this in other places: a necromancer, or a witch. They come for the secrets that a monastery of wizards holds and start to make the lands around it haunted, until they find what they are looking for or are destroyed.

    "Now you look surprised, and doubtful." Zela smiles and downs the rest of the mead. "I told you people are disappearing. Why a necromancer? Because, in the past week, some of them have reappeared. That's the worst thing to happen."


    Two days after midsummer
    No one has rested for more than four hours, but as the Bright Gold starts to rise over the trees, it rapidly becomes too hot to stay asleep. Some of the drink is used to dull the inevitable headaches, the rest is packed along with the food. As you trudge back to the northern track, you make your farewells.

    "May you find your journey's end. May it not find you instead," says Duvek blearily. Other than during the ceremony itself, he has spoken very little, but he sees you off with that much. Polon's and the others' farewells are a little less succinct, but the rising heat keeps them from being too drawn out.

    At the resumption of the track, the two groups separate. Your party heads north; the others south, back to the river bank. Despite Zephyr's protestations to stick with Noxias's plan, and Konstansz, who seems unaffected by the heat, none of the rest of you, including Noxias, have any desire to push forward after the sun reaches its zenith. You collapse in the vines a few paces from the track, having found some particularly odoriferous ones that the majority of stinging insects seem to avoid, and what follows is an extended siesta, to borrow Zephyr's term.

    Hours later, you rouse yourselves, for no other reason than that you've mostly run out of water. Avoiding a pool that seems too still and scummy, and is in any case more than half-covered by dragonflies, you come across a brook of chilly, sweet water. The late afternoon light glows orange through the canopies, and at last you're rested and refreshed. The scent of the vines has permeated your clothes and armor, but it is not really unpleasant, and seems to continue to work at keeping the biting insects at bay.

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    Noxias plods along behind the vanguard keeping an ear out. It's too hot to be silent in one's misery so Noxias decides to strike up a conversation. "Say Yrisz, any chance your order might have use of these vines? They are not bad as repellent to the chiggers and gnats that continue to pester us. Perhaps with a proper alembic I would be able to produce something... perhaps we should take a few samples." Noxias adjusts the dagger at his waist.
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    Konstansz picks her way though the wilderness with a scowl. An insect attempts to help itself to her blood and drops to the ground, dead, from it, but Konstansz still frantically brushes at where it had been.
    "I'd forgotten about the joys of wilderness travel," she mumbles.

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    Knowledge's Cauldron Main Post #2

    This is the second main post for Knowledge's Cauldron. Players' posts in either thread are due by 11 pm, Saturday, December 22nd. The next main post will appear by 11 am, Monday, December 24th.

    Conversation seems to die in the sultry weather. The party pushes on into forest, thankful for the shade, at least. You try to keep to a northerly route, but where the actual trail lies starts to become an exercise in hope and guesswork. Twice now, you were concerned enough about your orientation that the party searched the surroundings; but each time, you came up with telltale signs of a civilized presence such as footprints or the remains of a campfire, showing that the track, in all probability, was not far off.

    A few more hours pass, and the heat seems to lessen incrementally, but the sun is still visible through the leaves and vines. The bird calls, never entirely absent, have a renewed vigor, and the cawing of crows becomes more prevalent. In the midst of this, one sound stands out, though: the sound of a child's wailing sobs. It comes from the front and right of the party.

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    Prompted by the high pitched sobs Yrisz pauses for an instant, suddenly feeling unguarded without familiar weight of her links of mail.

    "Konstansz," she says softly in a voice pitched to carry only as far a the tiefling taking up the front rank, "we should really see what that's all about, that sounded very much like a duressed child."

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    "Wait a second," Noxias interjects. "I'm sure wolf pups can sound suspiciously like wounded children too. Maybe Rogur and I should take a peek first?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    "Let's have Fontibell take a look first," says Konstansz. Fontibell turns out to be a tiny dragon-like creature that slips out of the folds of Konstansz's cloak and peers up at her as she speaks softly in draconic. Fontibell then flies towards the sound on impossibly tiny wings.
    "I've told her to see what it is, but to flee at the first sign of danger," Konstansz explains.

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    "What-the...? How long have you had a baby dragon hidden in your cloak?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    Knowledge's Cauldron Main Post #4

    This is the fourth main post for Knowledge's Cauldron. Players' posts in either thread are due by 11 pm, Saturday, December 29th. The next main post will appear by 11 am, Monday, December 31st.

    I wish you would call me by Athearvaex, my proper name, speaks a voice in Konstansz's mind, to think that I should have been reborn to be addressed as "Fontibell." What a jest the Two Gods must be having at my expense. Despite its mental complaint, the creature flies on ahead. It is bound by its contract with Konstansz not to stray too far from her, and so stays within forty paces of the warlock, flapping and gliding from perch to perch.

    There is a small clearing ahead. The sound is coming from there, she reports.

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    "Konstansz? You still with us? Looks like you went a little vacant there. So what did you little pet say about the noise?"
    Ariellana, Noxias, and Yrisz that one time...
    Quote:
    "It seems to Noxias that the mere act of perceiving her in her decrepitude is enough to draw forth the mortality in his body."
    Translation: "Damn girl, you fugly."

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    Yrisz, with Zephyr in tow, creeps forward silently behind the mass of her friends keeping her keen eyes about for trouble.

    "Should I go up head?" she whispers to the half elf next to her, "I'm by far the least, um, intimidating of us all."

    Then with some thought, she adds, "Though, don't you think this is a rather strange place for a child to be out in the wilds and all."
    Last edited by Ithelryn; 12-30-2012 at 02:02 PM.

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    Knowledge's Cauldron Main Post #5

    This is the fifth main post for Knowledge's Cauldron. Players' posts in either thread are due by 11 pm, Tuesday, January 1st. The next main post will appear by 11 am, Thursday, January 3rd.

    There is a small human in the clearing, by itself. A juvenile, I think. It is sitting near the single tree in the clearing, and making the noise. Fontibell stays at the edge of the clearing, observing the child from a branch, and the party catches up to her.

    The clearing itself is about eighty feet around, a lush green patch of grass amid a forest floor more dominated by brush and leaves. One tree grows within, closer to your side than the center. It appears to have thrived in the open space, growing tall and sporting a wide canopy. Surrounding the tree is a ring of white daisies, and there are other patches of flowers elsewhere in the clearing, too.

    "Papa, where are you? It's almost time. Don't leave me here!" the girl suddenly cries out in the midst of her sobs. She is on her knees just within the flower ring, facing away from the tree. Her hair and dress are similarly pale, cast orange from the light of the setting sun. She also wears a blue or violet smock-frock and dark, leather boots. From her appearance, you would imagine she is indeed a human child, or possibly a halfling. Next to her lies a garland of the daisies.

    Rogur, squinting, tries to make out what might be lurking in the shadows beyond the clearing. Here and there, he's certain he sees flashes of bone and metal, enough of them to convince him he's not simply experiencing a runaway imagination. They are far enough above the level of the ground to arouse a deep concern.

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    Rogur whispers to the others as they hide amongst the trees. "There's something on the other side of the clearing, all right. Bone and metal, for sure." He looks back at Yrisz, his face set into grim lines. "You might just get a chance to see what those skeletons in Erszebet's tower were like." He indicates the ring of daisies surrounding the girl. "What's the story with those flowers? It seems odd to grow them in a circle like that, don't you think?" He retrieves his sling and drops a bullet into it, but makes no move to raise it. "I'm going to skirt the edge of the clearing to get a closer look. No offense, but the rest of you should stay back unless you can cut the noise a bit. But keep your eye out for trouble, I don't want to get left." He grins wickedly and slides off into the shadows of the trees.

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    Knowledge's Cauldron Main Post #6

    This is the sixth main post for Knowledge's Cauldron. Players' posts in either thread are due by 11 pm, Saturday, January 5th. The next main post will appear by 11 am, Monday, January 7th.

    The forest can't be Rogur's natural environs, but his form vanishes while his whispered words still hang in the air. Over the years, his knack of going unnoticed in the midst of loose-tongued or inattentive sailors and his near-perfect body control have advanced to the point where his presence can hardly be felt by the world when he so wills it. Staying a few feet behind the point where he imagines enemies lying in ambush might wait, he treads silently around the clearing.

    His worst suspicions are confirmed when, after rounding about a quarter of the clearing, he finds himself staring at an upright skeleton, about twenty feet away. It is wearing a chainmail coat, and it carries a sword and shield, all of which are streaked with rust. The skeleton's bones hang as if the flesh still bound them, but perfectly still. Not even the chain links make a sound. Its eye sockets stare out into the clearing, as it seemingly gazes at the girl.

    Now, Rogur is sure about the significance of what he saw. By his estimate, there must be at least a half-dozen of the unnatural things arrayed about the far side of the clearing.

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    Damn, and damn again. Rogur considers sneaking up behind the skeleton, but with no throat to cut, he doesn't see how he could make a stealthy job of it. The thing would probably raise an alarm and surprise everybody including his allies. With another silent curse, he makes his way back to the party. "About six skeletons. Swords, shields, chain mail--your basic horrible walking dead soldier type." He eyes the girl in the clearing, who is still sobbing. "If she's right, whatever she's worried about is going to happen soon. Let's take the fight to them before they get a chance to bring it to us. As soon as you hear a commotion, feel free to jump in and save my skin. They're in a group right over there," he indicates the arc of the clearing where he saw the undead warriors arrayed. With another grin, he backs into the shadows and is gone. Zephyr matches his grin and follows, albeit at a much slower pace.

    They make their way back to the skeleton, Zephyr hanging back. The smaller man stows his sling and with a whisper of steel on leather, draws his sword and readies his attack. Zephyr grips his war pick expectantly, peering through the underbrush to pick out the enemies' positions.
    Last edited by Palpatim; 01-02-2013 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Included Zephyr in the narrative

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